KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board’s (VFTCB) sixth annual Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive has collected a total of $4,658.77 – at a rate of .23 cents per pound – that’s the equivalent of 20,256 pounds of food.
Since the drive began in 2015, the VFTCB has collected more than 45,000 pounds of food to feed the hungry in Montco.
And, the VFTCB still isn’t done yet for 2020.
Due to the additional need, and high demand, caused by COVID-19, the organization will continue to keep the Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive donation link open through the end of the year to help those struggling through the holidays.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! We seriously can’t say it enough,” said Mike Bowman, President & CEO of the VFTCB. “This annual commitment to our community is so important. Our neighbors need us now more than ever. We can’t let this virus stop us. We must rally, and work together to fight COVID, and hunger.”
The Freedom from Hunger Food Drive benefits all people accessing food pantry services. COVID-19 has caused that number to grow. Those without the financial cushion required to manage a layoff, kids missing out on school meal programs, and seniors without means who are vulnerable to the virus are all in critical need of community support right now.
Since recovery from the public health pandemic could take years, more people than ever before will be relying on the charitable food network for assistance. This year’s donations will strengthen that network for people who need it today and tomorrow.
The VFTCB again partnered with the MontCo Anti-Hunger Network (MAHN), a coalition of hunger relief organizations working together to keep families stable with food assistance. MAHN provides resources to food pantries that feed more than 15,000 households a year, and serve the more than 80,000 people who are food insecure in the county. And, participation at many of those locations has been much higher than normal due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to MAHN officials.
“Dollars generated from this year’s Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger campaign will support MAHN’s COVID 19 response work,” said MAHN Executive Director Paula Schafer. “Thousands of Montco families are struggling to stay stable right now. Our goal is to channel as many resources to them as we can through our food pantry network. The visibility we get from Freedom from Hunger will equip us with more dollars and tools to do that.”
Due to COVID-19, this year’s drive took place solely online with a goal of collecting 15,000 pounds of food. Monetary contributions to purchase canned goods, and other foods, were accepted instead of physical donations.
The donation link had been open since the pandemic hit Montgomery County in the spring, closing schools and businesses. Until the fall, the drive had raised almost $2,000, which translated to more than 7,000 pounds of food. The September push collected another almost $3,000, or an additional more than 13,000 pounds of food.
So far this year, 73% of 34 MAHN member food pantries have seen an increase in volume, in some cases double, or even triple, especially when nonessential businesses were shut down. At that time, the increase at high-volume pantries in Norristown and Lansdale saw as much as a 200-300% increase in client numbers, officials said.
Some of MAHN’s COVID-19 response work includes direct to pantry delivery of 56,710 pounds of COVID-19-prompted food donations, dollars for wholesale food purchases, and operating equipment needed by food pantries to keep up with demand, and stopgap distribution assistance to pantries temporarily closed for virus remediation, according to MAHN’s Executive Director, Paula Schafer.
The Valley Forge Freedom from Hunger Food Drive was created as a farewell “gift” to Pope Francis in when the Pontiff stayed in Montgomery County at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. To donate, visit www.valleyforge.org/hunger.
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes Valley Forge and Montgomery County, PA as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 500+ member hotels, restaurants, attractions, and services. The award-winning website links visitors, meeting planners, tour operators, and residents to a diverse portfolio of brands focused on reasons to visit the region.